National power down in Khanaqin neighborhood for 10 days

Diyala: The main square in the center of Khanaqin District. Amir Khanaqini

By Laila Ahmed

The national electricity was cut off for residents of a neighborhood in Khanaqin district 10 days ago, while the private, diesel, power generator for the neighborhood stopped working four months ago without being repaired, at a time the district witnesses temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius.

The consistent power outage problems spikes in blazing summer as power consumption skyrockets for air-conditioning. Climate change including poor rainfall and decrease in greenery turned Iraq into one of the fragile countries in the face of the global warming.

Taher Safar, the representative (Mukhtar) of Malik Shah neighborhood in Khanaqin, told (KirkukNow) that before Eid (July 9th), the electrical transformer in the neighborhood was burnt, 10 days passed without national electricity, and the private generator also broke down four months ago and its owner is not ready to repair it.

“The temperatures are very high. We are tired of this situation. We have reported our problem to the Electricity Department and the mayor more than once. They tell us every time that an electrical transformer is to be brought to the neighborhood from Baqubah (Center of Diyala province),” Safar complained.

Khanaqin District is part of Diyala province and is one of the disputed areas between the Iraqi Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.

Another challenge for people of Khanaqin is the shortage of drinking water in summer a report by KirkukNow last June found out. The 90,000 residents of the majority Kurdish town of Khanqin consume 2,000 cube meters m3 in an hour while the current capacity of the town’s water project is 800 m3.

What added to the misfortune of the 60 families of Malak Shah neighborhood is that the private generator that was alternating with the national electricity to supply the neighborhood with electricity, has broken down and its owner refuses to repair it.

"The generator owner also refuses for someone else to install another private generator in the neighborhood. I registered a complaint against him, but to no avail," The Mukhtar added.

According to Taher Safar, the owner of the private generator said, "I will allow another generator to be installed in this neighborhood in only one case, which is that they buy my generator from me for $20,000."

Following gulf war in 1991, the Iraqi state infrastructure was sharply hit by the economic embargo on Saddam Hussein regime due to damage of many transmission lines and substations leaving the basic services provided by the state inadequate.

Beside the national network of state-subsidized electricity supply all over Iraq, residential units and business projects rely on private generators for power supply to fill the gap of national power outage.

Ahmed Ibrahim, from the neighborhood, said, "I have to pay 150,000 to 200,000 dinars to buy gasoline to run the small generator that I bought myself."

60 families live in that neighborhood and are waiting for the government to address their problem

Local officials said they have contacted Baghdad and Erbil for help yet ther resources are limited

Bashar Shaker, Director of the Khanaqin Electricity Department, said, "Since before Eid, the electrical transformers for two of Khanaqin neighborhoods (Malik Shah and Jabrawa) were broken.

“We moved those transformers to Baquba for the purpose of repairing them, but the repair work was not finished yet. For new electrical transformers, we don't know what will happen in the next few days."

The Garmian Electricity Department - affiliated with the KRG - sent on Wednesday, July 13 an electrical transformer to Malak Shah district, but it broke down a day after it was installed, according to the director of Khanaqin Electricity.

"One of the reasons for the delay in the arrival of electrical transformers is Eid, and another reason is the presence of strict control over the General Directorate of Electricity in Diyala Governorate, where it is necessary to inform the Integrity Commission before transferring any of the devices and equipment," Shaker said.

Representatives of the residents of the Malak Shah neighborhood and the owner of the neighborhood generator are scheduled to meet the mayor of Khanaqin within days in order to find a solution to the problem.

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